CW: talk about misgendering, fatphobia, drug abuse, rape, religious abuse.
My relationship with my body has always been a rocky one. To quote Blythe Baird: "As a child fat was the first word people used to describe me, which didn't offend me; until I found out it was supposed to." From the age of four or five I remember being on a diet already. I was taught as a child that food was about bargaining and punishment and reward. If I starve myself for a day then I can eat something I like, but only if it's small. I grew up in a house in which being called a f****t and a pig were a part of life. I learnt to hate my body. I learnt from a very young age that being fat is hateworthy. And my body didn't do the things that it was supposed to do. I remember being thin once in my life and that was a point where I was using so much cocaine to deal with stress, and abuse, and body pain, and dysphoria, and the fact that I was raped, I found myself in my senior year at school in a thin body and strangely none of the girls or boys wanted to sleep with me. I guess the lie that "people only want to sleep with you if you're thin" finally became transparent to me.
Ironically when I finally got over my drug addiction, nearly 12 years ago, my body exploded to sizes it never was before. I had always been fat. Now I was obese. Food was once again a thing of bargaining and the process of coming out as bisexual (the idea of pansexuality was something I didn't really want to talk about) the age of 23 made me feel even more gross as my own minister told me about these special camps they can send people like me to where they "fix" us and how queer people are fundamentally disordered.
I got raped for the second time then. And when I went to the police I was told that I'm too fat to get raped. I was told that I was too ugly to get raped. I was told that rape was something that didn't happen to boys. A double irony given that boys do, in fact, get raped, and the fact that I'm not a boy. My weight went up and down, and up and down. I swung between overweight and obese on a monthly level. I went to the gym and got threatened, had people take my photo, had people make fun of me. Doctors wouldn't treat me for the illnesses I needed help for. Flu? I should lose weight. Pneumonia? I should lose weight. A serious concussion after an accident? I should lose weight. I couldn't see doctors anymore. In many ways I still can't.
When I first started seeing my psychologist and we started working on my issues, of which there were many, I told her about the things I needed to do to get fixed and she told me, "I hear a lot about what you *need* to do, but not enough about what you *want* to do. You're being very hard on yourself." The first thing I then did was stopped dieting. And for the first time in my life, my weight stabilised.
I guess this was the beginning of my recovery. I realised I'll never be thin and healthy. I'll always be me-shaped. And that's okay. I took on fat as a descriptor understanding that fat isn't whats wrong with me, fat became a political part of who I was. I eat now because I want to eat. I eat because food is fuel for my body and mind. I won't bargain anymore. If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm in the mood for something, I'll eat that. My "diet" is about sustaining my body, not punishing it. I still deal with pain. I still deal with body dysphoria. But putting makeup on is about wanting to be myself, not because I want to fool cisgender people. There is a huge crossover with my weight issues and my gender issues that I don't think a lot of people appreciate.
Obviously this has annoyed a lot of people. For absolutely no reason apart from the fact that I'm queer, and fat, and happy. On twitter I got death threats, rape threats, every kind of hate you can imagine. Purely because I now exhibit a boy that people don't "agree" with, as if my body is a matter of opinion. But I've absolutely started taking no nonsense from people. 2017 is going to be the year of insisting a lot of things on my own behalf.
- I don't accept diet advice anymore. From anyone, for any reason. I don't want to hear about what people did to lose weight or what they think I should do.
- I don't listen to people moralising about bodies and what bodies should be.
- I don't listen to people telling me what I can or cannot eat. I've gotten them to stop by offering to have them pay for my groceries.
- I don't listen to people who seem to think that I have the same access to healthcare as they do.
- I don't accept my body as a topic of discussion, in humour, by contrast, or as a matter of 'debate'.
- I don't 'debate' with anybody on these issues, my body isn't an opinion.
- I won't be ashamed of eating in public anymore.
- I won't take commentary on what I eat.
I've been doing a lot of this already, really putting effort into this since last year, but I wanted this to be my year of insisting on my body, my rules. I'm fat and I'm beautiful. I'm fat and I have lovers. I'm fat and I'm happy. I don't imagine a time in the future when I won't be fat. This is who I am and that won't change.